Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
14 Nov 19. FLIR Systems enhances tethered UAS operations. FLIR Systems will use the recently acquired intellectual property (IP) and assets of Aria Insights to enhance its Tether Kit system and further expand its tethered capabilities, the company has told Jane’s .
The company announced that it had acquired the tethered drone assets of Aria Insights, which was previously known as CyPhy Works, in early October. Aria Insights specialises in the development of small tethered unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), notably the Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications (PARC) platform.
Roger Wells, vice-president of FLIR’s unmanned division, told Jane’s that “Aria had really solved a lot of hard and challenging problems” for tethered systems, notably around power conversion, cable management, and “the control aspects required to effectively deploy a tethered UAS system … we see that as a key piece of our tethered solution moving forward”.
FLIR’s major offering in this domain is its Tether Kit, which can be used with the company’s R70 and R80D systems. The kit comprises a detachable harness/power converter, battery-replacement modules, and interfaces with off-the-shelf ground stations. It plans to release successive new versions of the system over the coming months and years and plans to incorporate Aria’s technology into these new systems, Wells said.
Tethered systems provide users with two primary benefits: the power connection means the system can stay in the air for extended periods of time, allowing for long-range persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), and other missions; secondly, these can act as “a key link between UAS and unmanned and ground-based systems”. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
12 Nov 19. Leonardo Invests in Solar-Powered Drone Capable of Perpetual Flight. Leonardo is accelerating the progress of technology and innovation in autonomous flight by investing in Skydweller Aero Inc., a US/Spanish start-up specialising in large-scale solar-powered unmanned air systems. The initiative will result in the development and deployment of the Skydweller drone, the world’s first fully electric unmanned aircraft capable of carrying large payloads with unlimited range and ultra-persistent endurance.
“As the key technological investor and partner of the project, Leonardo will broaden its capabilities in new power systems, autonomous flight, innovative aerostructures, ultra-light materials and eco-friendly technologies to improve the company’s competitive advantage in the aerospace business for the next 20 years “, commented Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo.
Thanks to its unique features, Skydweller combines potentially unlimited persistence and range with the flexibility of an aircraft. It will operate from existing airbases around the world, deploy thousands of miles away to areas of high need, and remain overhead for orders of magnitude longer than current aircraft. This revolutionary platform will be used for purposes ranging from land and maritime surveillance to monitoring the environment and infrastructure, from industrial geo-information services to telecommunications and precision navigation. During emergencies and disaster-recovery situations, the system can be rapidly deployed from distant locations to provide backup communications and direct support to first responders.
The Skydweller project builds on a proven and mature aircraft that successfully circumnavigated the globe in 2016. The first phase focuses on converting the aircraft from a manned platform into an Optionally-Piloted Vehicle (OPV) by integrating advanced autonomy algorithms and vehicle management systems. The second step of the project will culminate in the first production aircraft, designed solely for unmanned operations and hardened against a range of environmental conditions. Autonomous flights of the OPV are projected for 2020 and the first production model of the unmanned version of the aircraft is expected in 2021.
The system will comply with European export laws and will not be subject to International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) restrictions. This will enable the aircraft to satisfy government and commercial needs around the world. Leonardo will act as the prime contractor for commercial opportunities in Italy, the United Kingdom, Poland and NATO.
Development and construction of the aircraft will be carried out at the Skydweller facility in the Castilla-La Mancha region of Spain. Leonardo Aircraft division will participate in development and engineering activities via a dedicated team. (Source: UAS VISION)
12 Nov 19. VSR700 prototype performs first flight. Next generation defence innovation for 21st century navies. The prototype of Airbus Helicopters’ VSR700 unmanned aerial system has performed its first flight at a drone test centre near Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. The VSR700 performed several take-offs and landings on Friday 8th of November with the longest flight lasting around 10 minutes.
In accordance with the airworthiness authority that provided the flight clearance, the VSR700 was tethered with 30-metre cables to fully secure the flight test zone. The subsequent phases of the flight test programme will now evolve towards free flight, and then progressively open the flight envelope.
“The VSR700 is a fully-fledged unmanned aerial system, capitalising on Airbus Helicopters’ extensive experience of advanced autopilot systems and engineering expertise to provide modern militaries with new capabilities”, said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. “This first flight of the VSR700 prototype is a major milestone for the programme as we make progress on the operational demonstrator for the French Navy that will perform trials in 2021 in partnership with Naval Group.”
The VSR700, derived from Hélicoptères Guimbal’s Cabri G2, is an unmanned aerial system in the 500-1000 kg maximum take-off weight range. It offers the best balance of payload capability, endurance and operational cost. It is capable of carrying multiple full size naval sensors for extended periods and can operate in existing ships, alongside a helicopter, with a low logistical footprint.
The VSR700 prototype which has just performed its maiden flight is a step change from the optionally piloted demonstrator that first flew in 2017 and which was based on a modified Cabri G2 equipped for autonomous flight. Compared to the demonstrator, the VSR700 prototype has a specialized set of avionics and an advanced flight control system, a payload bay in place of the pilot station designed to manage mission equipment, as well as a sleeker, more aerodynamic shape to improve flight performance.
12 Nov 19. US-Built QuadCopter with 70 Minutes Flight Time. TerraView, a California-based aerial technology company, has unveiled the RangePro X8 — an industrial unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed to fly for more than 70 minutes in real-world conditions with a standard sensor payload. Proudly engineered and assembled in the USA, the RangePro X8 was engineered specifically for industrial, first responder and government enterprise data capture.
“We’re extremely excited about the RangePro X8’s record-breaking flight time and data capture capabilities, which make this drone the highest performing in its class,” said Bruce Myers, president of TerraView. “The RangePro X8 is a game changer that employs military-grade technology to make drone missions more efficient and effective. This product will instantly elevate business’ capabilities, perspective, and competitive advantage.”
Compared with competitors, RangePro X8 offers:
- Longer Flight Times: Its highly efficient design coupled with higher capacity batteries result in flight times that are on average two and a half times longer than the competition, allowing users to accomplish more work with fewer batteries and less time spent on battery swaps and maintenance.
- Longer Service Life: Not only does the RangePro X8 fly longer, each battery can support over 500 charging cycles over its useful lifespan.
- Lower Total Cost of Ownership: Longer flight times, longer service life, and efficient design combine to provide the lowest cost per flight hour, keeping a low total cost of ownership and increasing overall ROI.
- Multiple Flight Control Systems: Available with either the A3 or Pixhawk flight control systems.
“We know that UAV customers are first and foremost concerned with the safety, durability and the ROI of their investment,” added Myers. “That’s why we are so proud that the RangePro X8 not only has a longer flight time than the competition but is also engineered with the highest quality materials and built to Mil-Spec standards.“
The RangePro X8 has data capture capabilities that include:
- Volumetric Studies
- Thermal Imaging
- Structural Integrity Surveys
- Terrain Mapping and Modeling
- Construction Site Planning
- Solar Panel Inspections
- Pipeline Inspection
- Tower Inspections
- Power Line Inspections
The RangePro X8 is a versatile platform. Compatible with multiple payload types, it is easily adaptable to a wide range of business needs. Additional features include:
- IP43 ingress protection
- Max speed of 90 K/H (56 MPH) with a 3:1 lift/weight ratio
- 360° anti-collision beacons rated for 3 miles in low light
- The RangePro X8 is lightweight and can fold and fit into a backpack
- Highly stable flight in higher wind conditions
- Propulsion and power redundancy
The RangePro X8 also has swappable payload gimbal mounts capable of carrying the following sensors:
A3 Flight System
- Zenmuse X3
- Zenmuse XT Thermal
- Zenmuse XT2 Dual Cam
- Zenmuse Z3
- Zenmuse X5/X5R
- Zenmuse Z30
- Micasense Red Edge
- Viewpro Q10F
- Viewpro Z30F
- Viewpro Q30T
- Viewpro Z40K
- Viewpro Mini Z10TIR
- FLIR Duo Pro
The unique capabilities of the RangePro X8 can be customized to work in industries such as energy, agriculture, construction, first responders, mining and government, to name a few. (Source: UAS VISION)
11 Nov 19. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), a global leader in Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), announced today that they are working with the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) in Greece to conduct a series of demonstration flights for European countries in December. Flights will base out of the HAF’s site in Larissa and use a GA-ASI MQ-9 Guardian RPA to showcase maritime surveillance capabilities, as well as a GA-ASI-developed Detect and Avoid (DAA) system that enables RPA to fly safely in civil airspace alongside manned aircraft.
“We appreciate the HAF’s support in helping showcase the maritime surveillance and civil airspace integration capabilities of our unmanned aircraft in Europe,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. “The demand for affordable, long-endurance airborne surveillance of the seas surrounding Europe is growing.”
The demonstration configuration is based on the MQ-9 systems operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in support of its maritime surveillance roles.
The DAA system consists of an air-to-air radar and processor integrated with Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS II) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). The DAA system from GA-ASI is operational in the U.S. The system’s collision-avoidance radar provides an essential safety feature for integrating unmanned aircraft into civil airspace.
The MQ-9 system will also demonstrate a multi-mode maritime surface-search radar with Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) mode, an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver, and High-Definition/Full-Motion Video sensor equipped with optical and infrared cameras. This sensor suite enables real-time detection and identification of surface vessels over thousands of square nautical miles.
The featured Raytheon SeaVue surface-search radar system provides automatic tracking of maritime targets and correlation of AIS transmitters with radar detection. GA-ASI is also partnering with SES, a leading satellite communications (SATCOM) operator and managed services provider, with over 70 satellites in Geostationary Orbit (GEO) and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). SES will provide the GEO satellite connectivity that enables the MQ-9 to operate securely with a high capacity datalink, enabling real-time transmission of sensor data from the aircraft, and extending its effective operational range far beyond that of “line-of-sight” datalinks.
“With our global satellite fleet, SES has been supporting the critical needs of GA-ASI and their government customers who have operated these aircraft for close to two decades,” said Nicole Robinson, Senior Vice President, Global Government at SES Networks. “We are proud to support this demonstration effort for the Hellenic Air Force as part of our long-standing relationship with General Atomics.”
11 Nov 19. Microdrones Launches Three New Integrated UAS. Microdrones is releasing three new Integrated UAV Systems based on the heavy lifting power, resilience and efficiency of the Microdrones md4-3000 aircraft: the mdMapper3000DuoG VHR, the mdMapper3000DuoG, and the mdMapper3000 PPK.
The company has also updated the mdTector1000CH4 LR with a Pergam Laser Methane Falcon sensor for detecting Methane (CH4) and methane-containing gases. Additionally, Microdrones is preparing to release mdInfinity, a new software package that will enable users to quickly and efficiently process geospatial data. The mdMapper3000DuoG VHR combines the Microdrones md4-3000 aircraft platform, with a perfectly integrated Phase One camera and the power of direct georeferencing. This results in an unparalleled one-pixel mapping accuracy from a 1000 ft. drone flight height.
Vivien Heriard-Dubreuil, President of Microdrones, anticipates the system will break ground in new markets for the company.
“We’re packaging manned aircraft aviation quality technology into a UAV system so that Microdrones can serve customers who have a need for wide-area mapping with unparalleled accuracy and deliverables,” he explains. “Our mdMapper3000DuoG VHR can fly higher altitudes and provide ultra-high-resolution for the most accurate and dense data for mapping service providers.”
The ultra-high-resolution stems from the 100-megapixel Phase One iXM-100 camera that is paired with a custom, lightweight, vibration-free, quick connect mount. Dr. Mohamed Mostafa, Director of mdSolutions at Microdrones says,
“This system is a game-changer for Microdrones as now we can compete in some of the same arenas that photogrammetry professionals relied on manned aircraft for. You can fly the mdMapper3000DuoG VHR at a height of 1,000 feet and achieve triple the image quality and double the Direct Georeferencing in just half the time without all of the traditional manned aircraft expenses.”
Also being released is the new mdMapper3000DuoG, equipped with direct georeferencing and a 42.4-megapixel Sony RX1R II camera paired with a custom, lightweight, vibration-free, nadir mount. This professional mapping integrated system will quickly acquire highly dense and accurate data, in half the time of PPK based systems and can easily be upgraded to VHR or LiDAR by purchasing the payload(s) and related firmware and software subscriptions.
Rounding out the new product releases is the mdMapper3000 PPK, a powerful, highly expandable system that can acquire dense and accurate data with just 1-3 ground control points. Also featuring a 42.4-megapixel Sony RX1R II camera and nadir mount, this system is DuoG ready and is easily upgradeable via firmware to direct georeferencing.
“All of these new systems are designed, engineered and built for professional mappers to build professional-grade mapping products,” says Vincent LeGrande, Microdrones Vice President of Global Sales. “Furthermore, these systems can grow with you. So, if you start with the PPK, it’s upgradeable to add Direct Georeferencing or expand further to incorporate VHR or LiDAR. These packages are all about resilience, convenience, and geomatics performance.”
Microdrones also announces the updated mdTector1000CH4 LR, which is integrated with a Pergam Laser Methane Falcon sensor for detecting Methane (CH4) and methane-containing gases from the sky. The upgraded sensor offers a significant weight reduction by drawing on the drone power source and removing the display on previous generation detectors. Information is displayed via the mdCockpit tablet software during flight, and via area concern maps post-flight.
The new Microdrones mdInfinity software package is coming soon in 2020 and will become the backbone of the Microdrones product ecosystem. The first module to be introduced will be trajectory processing, followed by Pointcloud Georeferencing, Boresight Calibration, and Pointcloud Colorization. (Source: UAS VISION)
The British Robotics Seed Fund is the first SEIS-qualifying investment fund specialising in UK-based robotics businesses. The focus of the fund is to deliver superior returns to investors by making targeted investments in a mixed basket of the most innovative and disruptive businesses that are exploiting the new generation of robotics technologies in defence and other sector applications.
Automation and robotisation are beginning to drive significant productivity improvements in the global economy heralding a new industrial revolution. The fund allows investors to benefit from this exciting opportunity, whilst also delivering the extremely attractive tax reliefs offered by the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). For many private investors, the amount of specialist knowledge required to assess investments in robotics is not practical and hence investing through a fund structure makes good sense.
The fund appoints expert mentors to work with each investee company to further maximise the chance of success for investors. Further details are available on request.